7 May 2012
Programme Director; the Director General of the Department of Arts and Culture, Mr. Sibusiso Xaba
The Mayor of the Makana Municipality, Mr. Zamuxolo Peter
The Chief Executive Officer of the South African Heritage Resources Agency, Ms Sibongile Van Damme
Members of the SAHRA Council here present
The Deputy Vice Chancellor of Rhodes University, Dr. Sizwe Mabizela
The Director of the Africa World Heritage Fund, Dr Webber Ndoro
The Head of Department of the Centre for Environmental Learning, Prof. Rob O’Donoghue
The Chief Executive Officer of the National Heritage Council, Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa
The Head of Department of the Eastern Cape Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Mr. Matiti
Members of the Eastern Cape Provincial Heritage Resources Agency
Representatives of the SETAs
Members of the media
Members of the Community
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Molweni, Sanibonani, Dumelang, Good morning, Thobela, Abuxeni.
We meet here today to mark a significant milestone in our country and within the heritage sector.
Today, we are witnessing the birth of an important partnership between the South African Heritage Resources Agency and Rhodes University, to fast track the development of critically and urgently needed skills in the heritage sector.
I take this opportunity to commend the two institutions for fostering this relationship that holds enormous benefits for our sector.
The professional development course in Integrated Heritage Resources Management, we are launching today, is a result of cooperation between the SETAs, the Department of Arts and Culture, the Department of Higher Education and Rhodes University.
I therefore take this opportunity to thank all our partners for working with us in this ground breaking initiative.
Programme Director, as we all know, it is through the preservation of our heritage that as a nation we are able to document the story of our past, of our present and of our future.
Heritage is our cultural and natural imprint.
It defines who we are as a nation, it embodies our aspirations and in many cases it defines our cities and the environment in which we live.
Equally, heritage is an important part of human development and a catalyst for sustainable economic growth and development as well as social inclusion.
It is therefore of utmost importance that we continue to build the necessary skills base to ensure the sustainability of the heritage sector.
We have no doubt that the initiative we are launching today will take our ongoing skills development efforts in the heritage sector to a higher level.
This initiative is in addition to the work done by the Department of Arts and Culture, to provide bursaries to students pursuing heritage studies at various institutions of higher learning throughout the country.
We are pleased to report that more than 50 students in the heritage sector are beneficiaries of our bursary scheme.
To us the Integrated Heritage Resources Management Course, we are launching today, is part of our broader vision towards the establishment a National Skills Academy for the Arts.
As we have said before the Academy will not replace existing training initiatives, but rather it will coordinate and strengthen these initiative.
We will therefore draw lessons and work together with all of those who made this course possible as we establish our Academy.
Programme Director, today we are also bringing exciting news with regard to the future of the Old Gaol, one of this town’s most significant heritage sites.
After having reclaimed this site, we are now ready to renovate and refurbish the jail and transform it into a CenTRE for heritage training.
We have allocated an initial amount of R 10 million towards the renovation and refurbishment of the site.
We expect that during the renovation we will create much needed jobs among the local community and will also offer business opportunities to local contractors.
A Business Plan for this project is now in place, tenders have already been advertised and we expect to complete the first phase of the project by the end of the 2012-13 financial year.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am aware that Old Gaol, which is older than 200 years and is an important part of our country’s history, has suffered significant neglect in the past.
Today I wish to assure all of you that the neglect suffered by this important heritage site is now a thing of the past.
The site will be restored and will be part of country’s precious heritage assets.
The site will also be converted into a Training, Research and Education Center.
Given this site’s rich history and heritage, we could not have chosen a better venue to house our training center for the heritage sector.
Today we are also signing Memoranda of Understanding with the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality, Sport, Education and Training Authority (CAHTSSETA); as well as with the Construction Education and Training Authority (CETA).
The CATHSSETA will continue to work with the project team to ensure that the courses offered are fully accredited and responsive to the needs of the sector.
The Construction SETA will play a leading role in facilitating the restoration and onward maintenance of the Old Jail.
We take this opportunity to applaud this partnership with the SETAs.
I would like to assure in particular our students that all courses offered at our CenTRE are of high quality.
Equally the courses are relevant to the current challenges in the heritage sector.
We are encouraged that a number of distinguished practitioners in the heritage sector have applauded this course and have sent their best wishes.
I am therefore excited about this initiative, and I hope you too are also excited.
It is indeed a great honor for me to officially declare this new heritage professional development initiative launched.
We congratulate all the students taking part in this course.
You are our ambassadors for this course.
In your hands lies the future and sustainability of our country’s heritage sector.
Good luck and all the best.
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